SG Violates Own Constitution

Student Government President Khristian Bartley is serving in violation of SG’s own constitution, and as a result, a special commission will rewrite Student Government’s constitution beginning this week. The violation occurred when Bartley took over for Paul Blackmon, who resigned over the summer. According to the SG constitution (Article V, Section VIII), “If an elected officer fails to meet the requirements,” as Blackmon did, “an election will be held during the first three weeks of the subsequent semester.” Because the change occurred over the summer, it is unclear whether the “subsequent semester” meant the fall or the spring. Either way, an election should have occurred in early February at the latest. Matt Woods, Chairman of UT’s College Republicans, was the first to notice the violation and bring it to the attention of Dean of Students Bob Ruday and Assistant Dean of Students Stephanie Russell Holz. Holz argued that the responsibility for the violation of the constitution does not rest with Bartley. “If anyone is to blame it was Bob Ruday and myself,” Holz said. She explained that the mistake originated when then-Vice President Bartley was forced to take over in order to prepare for the coming fall semester. To keep SG’s Executive Board on schedule for the start of the fall semester, Bartley was placed into the position and business was allowed to continue as usual, Holz said. Another election was never held. “We missed it,” Holz said. “It didn’t have anything to do with the current Executive Board. They didn’t make the call, Bob and I did.” Regardless of who is to blame for the mistake, the event troubled officials enough to convene a special commission to rewrite the entire constitution. According to Holz, the last time anyone spent a significant amount of time revising the constitution was during the 2003-2004 school year. In an emailed statement to The Minaret, Bartley said that there has been an awareness that revisions to the constitution were needed, but it had not been the focus of recent administrations. “The 2005-2006 Executive Board has been working on proposals to rectify the constitution,” Bartley said. “We will then be holding meetings open to all students and gathering their input and then presenting formal changes to the General Assembly to be voted on.” The violation was caught by Woods, who was recently told by Bartley as a graduate student he is ineligible to serve as Chairman of the College Republicans. In looking to confirm Bartley’s claim, Woods read through the SG Constitution and subsequently came across the article and section in question. “I wasn’t trying to get her in trouble or anything,” Woods said. In researching the constitution, he found numerous cases of ambiguous wording and contradictory statements, which he brought to the attention of Ruday and Holz. “Matt definitely had some valid points regarding Section Eight,” Holz said. Woods noted that Ruday and Holz have encouraged him to chair the commission to ensure that any ambiguous wording and other problems are eliminated. The first meeting for people interested in being on the commission is scheduled to occur this Sunday at 8 p.m. in the Student Government Office (Vaughn 220).

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